In the nascent stages of this final table the rail remains hushed, save for sporadic outbursts, for now. The beer is already flowing though, meaning the cheering is getting a little louder when their chosen player wins a pot and the decibel levels of the hushed conversation when hands are in progress is rising steadily.
If finishing positions were based on who has the most raucous rail then they might as well give the trophy to Kevin Killeen right now and we could all write about how Jake Cody had been denied a second EPT title in losing heads-up to the Irishman.
No surprise there you might think given the Irish and English on the rail were likely already here playing or had less distance to travel to get here, but that would be too simplistic. The most vocal railer in Kevin Killeen’s section, just as he was when Killeen won UKIPT Dublin, is Fintan Hand.
Hand, who’s also handy at poker, has had to traverse more than the skip and a jump across the Irish Sea to be here today. He’s one of many poker players who live in Malta and would’ve missed the shuffle up and deal announcements but for the final table starting fashionably late. “I only got here 15 minutes ago,” he tells the PokerStars Blog shortly after play gets under way. He’s noticeable not only for his bright green suit, but because he doesn’t yet have a beer on the go. “Apparently there’s an under/over on when I’ll get kicked out for being too rowdy,” he laughs. “So I’m not going to have a drink for a few hours. I’m always the one who gets noticed.”
When Killeen won in Dublin the rail had a number of catchy chants and they’ve already belted out one of the classics singing, “T is for Torino, T is for Torino,” in reference to Killeen’s online screenname. Their other hit from Dublin was, “You can’t beat the beard, can’t beat the beard,” that’s been retired as Killeen has since shaved it off. “We’re thinking about changing it to, ‘can’t beat the hat,’ but we’ll see.” says Hand.
He’s not the only one who’s gone above and beyond to get here to rail his friend, Stephen Malone hates flying and hasn’t flown for seven years, but this final table was an itch he had to scratch. Killeen’s brother and mother are here, they’ve flown in for Shannon, eschewing a social engagement to rail their flesh and blood. Whilst two of Killeen’s friends who are here don’t have passports, so they had to travel by boat to Hollyhead in Wales and then get the train to London. Whilst German pro Marc Radgen – who finished 5th at UKIPT Isle of Man – lends a international flavour to Killeen’s supporters.
A few metres to the right of the Irish contingent you’ll find a large swathe of well known players all here in support of Jake Cody as he goes in search of a record equalling second EPT title. They include former flatmate Jamie Sykes, two-time WSOP bracelet winner and best poker buddy Matt Perrins, Kevin Allen, Niall Farrell , who hopped onto the rail after busting the High Roller – Jamie Roberts and Jake’s girlfriend Alex. Word is that they did want to bring their little girl Arianna with them today but regulations prevented it. “I wouldn’t have been allowed near the table and would’ve had to watch from upstairs, so I might as well have been at home,” says Alex.
The English contingent are just talking amongst themselves for now, but a few have amber liquid in hand. No sign of jaegerbombs, shoe bombs or bare chests yet but give it time and the person funking hardest for Cody isn’t even here.
The Anglo-Irish contingent won’t have it all their own way though and Cody isn’t the only man going for a second EPT title today. Whilst Kevin MacPhee might be American he’s a poker nomad and Stephen Chidwick is in his corner today. He’s playing the £5,000 turbo event whilst keeping an eye on proceedings via #EPTLive and Max Silver gave the EPT Berlin champion the highest of fives yesterday after MacPhee made the final eight. The Spanish contingent, here to cheer on Pablo Gordillo, includes UKIPT4 Nottingham 6th place finisher Juan Benito and WSOPE champion Adrian Mateos. They gave it some oomph when their man picked up a pot in the first orbit.
The Germans have arrived too with Igor Kurganov, Philipp Gruissem, Martin Finger and Max Altergott taking time out from the £5,000 turbo to cheer on Artur Koren and Sebastian Pauli. If Ole Schemion, shows up then its all over, as we know he has the midas touch.
Just like the poker the rail is warming up nicely, if that trend continues it’s possible we might see more ejections off the table than on it and with Killeen second in chips and Cody third we might well see an Ireland vs England battle off the table too.
Follow our coverage of the EPT London festival via the main EPT London page, where there are hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top and feature pieces below. And, of course, you can follow it all live at EPT Live.